Saturday, February 21, 2015


Eli asks me the other day, "my cheeks are getting more and more chubby. Isn't it? Am I getting fat?"

Okay. Rewind.

I have body issues. It started when I was seven years old and was quite active until my mid-thirties. And although I still occasional have delusional ideas about my body regarding its shape, size and weight, I am happy to say that I am pretty grounded. Or at least practicing being grounded.

So, my child of seven is asking me if he is fat. My child is probably the opposite of chubby. If anything he is skinny. And today he is worried about becoming fat. So I ask him, "is it bad to be fat?" And he says glumly without making eye contact, “I don't know…”

So today we have the “fat talk.” And this is what I tell him.

Secretly, you, Daddy, I, the people we know and the people we don't know, all have been breathing in the idea that being fat is bad. No body actually says it. But we seem to be thinking it. We don’t seem to know that we are breathing in this idea everyday and now it has become a real thing in our brain. But this idea is mean and it is rude. This idea is as mean and rude to say that people who have brown skin are stupid. And you know how that feels. In my opinion, it is as inappropriate to say or think that being fat is bad and wrong.

We are all different. In our bodies and in our minds. And that is great and wonderful. But there are all these ideas about how we should think and how we should look. Because we are confused about what we should think and what we should be. And being fat is one of those things that got thrown into the bad pile. But in my opinion we have to actively say no to these thoughts. Because these thoughts are not really our thoughts. And we have to advocate for ourselves--all of ourselves--in all of our forms, colors, shapes, ages, gender and more.

We have to love and respect ourselves just as we are. We are all different and that is a beautiful thing.

Okay, Mama. Can I have a snack now?

You bet.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Methodical Preparation

It turns out methodical preparation for a project is another form of, wait for it… procrastination.

I have been buying tools, paper swatches, researching printing options, looking at wacom tablets, an iPad stylus, inventing and building photoshoot structures for consistency of lighting and photography, ordering more equipments, tools and materials online, then another trip to JoAnn Fabrics, Utretch, Michael’s, and Lorraines. A whirl wind of busywork all to disguise that I don’t want to draw.

I am creating a picture book for children. So I have to draw. 

The last time I drew seriously was when I was in high school. It was 1983 and I was preparing for the entrance exam for university. I was applying for the design department and for that we had two tests. A drawing test and a color composition test. My last month of preparation before the exams looked something like this.

Wake up at 5:30am. Take the first bus to my drawing studio. From 6:30-9:30am go through a self-imposed three hour drawing test (pencil rendering of a plaster reproduction of a roman sculpture.) Take the bus to second studio where I would study color composition. From 10:30-1:30 pm, go through a self-imposed three an a half hour color composition test. Crit with the instructor, then wash up and go back to drawing studio. Have some food then sit and draw until 11:30pm. Then catch the last bus home, sleep some then start the day all over again at 5:30 am. No one told me I had to do this. No one gave me the outline and said you must do this in order to succeed. I did this to myself. Just to make sure. Because I really needed to get into Seoul National University. I was 17.

I did this for about a month. On top of the fact that I had been in “training for the last year.” This was just the final cherry on top of the “MUST GET TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN” routine. Then we took a bus to our university of choice and took the test. I did well enough and I got into the school of my choice.

My relationship with drawing is fraught with anxiety about performance, being good enough, and almost always about being judged.

No wonder all of my perfectionists have escaped. All 1001 of them. Time to let go. How?

I think I am overthinking everything. The robust machinery of “mass-production” is constantly nagging at my elbow saying things like “production value” and “economic effort.” Fuck it. I keep forgetting that this is about relationships. My relationship to myself, my relationship with my child, my relationship with all the children out there who feel lonely—lonely because they feel like that they are the only ones who look like them, who feel like them, who think like them. All I am trying to do is put on my little light to say, “I am here, and I understand what you are going through.” Just like this blog.

So I say, focus on the love. Focus on sharing. I can only be who I am, and I am going to have to honor that.

New rules of conduct.
1. Have fun. If I am not having fun, something is not right.
2. Start with what comes easy. Path of least resistance is not a rude thought.
3. Notice what I keep away from and resist. And ask that part questions.
4. Have small, short, achievable goals to start with. There is a Korean saying about collecting dust to make a mountain. So do a little everyday.